The Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish Church and convent in Loon, Bohol, was among two heritage churches and 19 heritage structures destroyed or damaged by the powerful 7.2-magnitude earthquake that struck Bohol on October 15, 2013.
Eight years after, the church, also known as Our Lady of Light Parish Church, was already reconstructed and restored.
The National Museum of the Philippines (NMP) turned over the church to the Diocese of Tagbilaran on September 7, in time for the eve of the feast of Loon town’s patron, Our Lady of Light, and the nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the National Museum-Bohol said.
According to NMP Director-General Jeremy R. Barns, “To be entrusted with this project and successfully implement and complete has been one of the milestones in the 120-year history of the NMP.”
Most Rev. Alberto S. Uy, D.D., bishop of the Diocese of Tagbilaran, accepted the reconstructed church together with Loon Parish priest Fr. Desiderio R. Magdoza and Fr. Milan Ted Torralba of the Commission for the Cultural Heritage of the Church.
Former Loon parish priests present during the ceremony included Fr. Joel Ruyeras and Fr. Ruel Tumangday.
The turnover culminated with the Rite of the Dedication of the Church and Pontifical by Bishop Uy “in thanksgiving to God’s faithfulness to His people, and the success of the project.”
Witnessing the event were Rep. Edgardo M. Chatto of Bohol’s First Congressional District, Vice Gov. Rene L. Relampagos, together with the majority of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan of the province, representing Gov. Arthur C. Yap, and Loon Mayor Elvi Peter L. Relampagos.
The event also featured the unveiling of the marker of the National Historical Commission of the Philippines that declared the church in 2010 as National Historical Landmark.
Chairman Rene L. Escalante led the unveiling of the marker.
It should be noted that the Vatican has established a “bond of spiritual affinity” between the Basilica of St. Mary Major in Rome and two parish churches in Bohol—the Our Lady of Light Parish- Loon and Assumption of Our Lady Shrine Parish-Dauis.
This means that Catholics can make a pilgrimage to the two churches and enjoy all the spiritual benefits as if they were able to pray at the papal basilica.
The special bond also means that special indulgences attached to the basilica can be obtained, under the same conditions, at the two churches under the Diocese of Tagbilaran.
The diocese has yet to announce the official declaration of this affiliation.
The Loon church and convent had been rebuilt several times from the 1780s until the early part of the mid-1800s.
The earlier structures had been built of light materials and were gutted by fire twice in the 19th century. This prompted the construction of a stone masonry church, built between 1855 and 1864.
The building of stone masonry churches was the pinnacle of Recollect architecture in Bohol. It resulted in one of the grandest churches and its “crowning glory” in the Visayas: the Nuestra Señora de la Luz Parish Church.
The Loon Church Complex, which includes the Inang-angan stone stairway and the circular cemetery, was declared a National Cultural Treasure by the NMP on December 6, 2010.
As a National Cultural Treasure, the church complex was recognized as a cultural property possessing outstanding historical, cultural, artistic and architectural value highly significant and important to the country and the nation.
The Inang-angan stairway, also built in the 19th century, was significantly damaged during the 2013 earthquake. Restoration of the Inang-angan was completed in 2016 and was the first quake-damaged heritage structure restored by the NMP in the province.
Images courtesy of Photos from National Museum Bohol and Nataniel Luperte